I find increasingly a large number of students in Chennai seeking tutions after school. While we do not send our daughter for tutions, we often reflect on why a child should need tuitions when we spend so much and send them to such so called "good" schools?
I work for an international NGO and we had this heated discussions one day when someone suggested that we could open up a tuition centre for children from less priveleged backgrounds ! Our contention ofcourse was that if children are taught well at school they should not require after school assistance. If teachers in school are approrachable then why have this after school help? While not discounting the need for tuitions for under previleged children who may be first generation learners requiring some help- our verdict was that we should enable communities to take responsibility to supervise after school study and look for a common place where this could take place.
But that discussion did not end there- we started talking about how many of our colleagues sent their children for tuitions. Almost all ( except me) had children who spent nearly 3 hours after school in tuitions!! Some of these children were as young as 6-7 years old!
I really cannot understand why we have to do this? Most of us as educated parents ( with over 2 generations of education on an average in most middle class families) can spend that 1-2 hours helping children with after school studies! Our children go to private schools where supposedly education is better - we pay hefty fees and yet we also send them to tuitions.
I was appalled to hear from my daughter that some of her friends go straight from school for tuitions. These are children who come from extremely well to do backgrounds going to a school where class sizes are less than 30. I will not accept the fact that the teaching is insufficient in the school because my daughter who goes to the same school is able to understand her lessons well and where she does not we encourage her to ask her teachers who it must be said have been most helpful too.
I remember my school days where tuition was something very rare. I was one of the few who took tuitions and that was for Hindi since being south Indians we were unfamiliar with that lanaguage. But Hindi tuitions also were discontinued once we found that we had pickeup enough of that lanaguage to manage on our own. With regard to other subjects- we found that teachers were willing to explain sums that we could not do and ofcourse my father being an engineer helped in areas where we needed instant help. My mother also pitched in when required.
Class X or XII syllabus is not rocket science - is it the inability of the school system to take up the responsibility to do what they are supposed to well or is it that we as parents are busy with our careers and therefore not giving our children the time that is required. I feel that it may be a lot to do with the later. Much of tuitions is nothing but supervised studying- supervision that we as parents can do pretty much at home.
I think as children grow older they require less and less supervision with their studies - so is it that we cannot spare that 2 hours a day for about 4-5 years of their student lives? Essentially serious supervision of studies is something that in my opinion is required from classes 5 onwards till 8th or so. From 9th and 10th children usually understand their responsibilities well. I remember when I was young my mother would just sit by me cutting vegetables or reading a book while I was doing my homework- I sometimes wonder if we pay a tuition teacher money to do just that?
I invite other parents' views on this....
Hi Meera, I agree with you on on this. For the fees that is paid out, normally there should be no need for extra coaching.
However, the other point is that the syllabus keeps advancing every year and I think after 5th std, its very difficult for the parents to teach everything to the kids. The parents can probably teach methodologies for studying and other general tips, but to actually understand and teach is going to be difficult. As Meera said, parents can do the supervision. If that is what is needed for the kid, well & good. If not, then the root cause has to be found out and action taken accordingly.
Having said that, i think the other reason for extra classes being that the students feel shy to ask questions/say that they do not understand in front of others in the class. They might not realise that the same may be the case with others as well in the class. Parents and teachers should teach the fact that it is okay to ask questions, however stupid it may be. The kids should realise that they can learn only if they ask questions. In such cases, parents instead of encouraging them to ask the teacher again, send them for extra classes thinking that their kids need more attention.
Parents should take the responsbility of getting to know what happens in the class, get to know the teachers well, encourage kids to ask then & there is they do not understand, follow up with them if the doubts were clarified indeed the next day, assess the teacher and if the teacher is not willing to help further, take up with the management etc etc.
I think this would go some way in reducing the extra coaching
Would love to hear from others as well.
I agree Lavanya- but you know sometimes kids are also afraid of teachers - I know that my friend's son does not ask questions because he is scared what the teacher's reaction will be.
But the bottom line is that the job of the teacher is to teach- we pay school fees and as consumers of a service provided by the schools we should ensure that we are getting our money's worth!!! One should not try to go to a different service provider simply because one does not work properly!! You know I firmly beleive in the rule of demand generation leading to impact on the supply end. If as parents we take a firm stand and insist to the school management regarding improved teacher involvement in student learning then I am sure the school has to comply. Instead, we have somehow turned the school into a power structure that is beyond questioning.
I tend to agree with Hilary Clinton ( in her interaction with Times of India - Teach for India volunteers) that we need to see if a teacher is capable of teaching- does the teacher know the subject and is s/he familiar with the pedagogy?
Anyone with a B.Ed degree cannot be a teacher- one needs skills that usually develop with experience ( some may have inborn abilities but skills require to be honed). A teacher's job is to facilitate learning and not just to "teach" !
Would like to get other views on this...
Yes, I do agree.
Which is why I mentioned that as parents we need to evaluate the teachers and take it up to the management, if found lacking. It is only the parents who can take up these issues to the management and the parents should not be silent spectators! Most cases, in this busy world, everyone is bothered about their own time and they are not willing to go the extra mile /take the additional troble of correcting the issue.
Along with parents, teachers should also realize this. I agree that the teacher's job is to facilitate.
This is common across all issues in the society, not just teaching. Anywhere when someone encounters a problem, there are not many who go the extra mile to address the problem. I realize that it may be due to various reasons, but normal tendency is just to turn a blind eye to it and take short cut to resolve the immediate problem rather than focus on the long term solution.
Just to clarify, I agree with all points put forth by Meera.
Teachers need to know how to teach and ensure that all kids in the class are benefited and not just the few very good ones who will anyways learn.
What I suggested above is a solution - it may not be a big one. But if every parent, each one of us, take this up seriously and stand our ground and question the school maangement constantly, this would create a ripple and set the pattern and the school will also become aware of the fact that the parents cannot be taken for granted.
From the school's perspective in resolving this issue, I remember when I was studying in school, there used to be sudden visits to the classes by principal as a kind of audit. I know that serves no purpose as the teacher could be easily very well behaved just during that visit and revert to type later. But this provides food for thought.
The schools could
-Refine the recruitment procedure to only recruit really qualified (by that, who can really teach and knows how to teach) teachers.
-Definitely come up with a realistic audit plan to assess and evaluate the teachers
-Get a performance review of the teachers from the parents every 6 months or so. This would also form the basis for their promotions/salary hikes.
Any other thoughts or suggestions ?
Reasons for tutitions:
Meera, Cant agree with you more! This has been my rue too. Even when I was studying, tutions were the norm and I was one of the exception and the irony is that the more popular the school is, more the students who go for tutions - because all those students are good academically and they need that extra push to still score high:>
School has a duty to ensure that the syllabus is taught properly and at a pace at which kids can understand. If not, it is the parents duty and RIGHT to check with the school as to why it is not happening. As much as I accept that each child has different speed/understanding level, there has to be a normalized method of teaching keeping up with the average. It is NOT possible that all students in the class cant follow and hence go for tution. If a particular kid is finding it difficult, it may be required to bring the kid to some higher level, with some additional coaching.
As far as I know, most of the tutions just encourage 'repetitive learning, equivalent to mugging up'. Give repeated tests and ensure that the kid 'somehow' spits out what is 'expected'. And I cant believe that the quality of teaching in tution is so much better than in school, that the kids pick it up immediately but not in school, ha , what a spin!!
I also painfully realize that all the above apply to schools of certain level - how about govt /corporation schools? Surprisingly, I have come across govt school teachers/students who apply very non-traditional method of teaching and are very duty-conscious too. So, we cant generalize. The only thing is that th e accoutability of govt/corporation schools are very low - towards parents; they are still accountable to the funding unit for results and hence may be pushing students to perform with poor teaching, leaving tution as the only option.
But this still leaves completely baffled as to why educated parents/ parents of children who go to established schools, send their children for tution? Some mob psychology, perhaps?
I think there is a myth around the tuitions issue- marks !!! I dont think that tuitions help in any way in getting more marks int he boards. If anything they exhaust the child. I did not go for any tuititons in the good old 1980s and yet scored over 80% in my ICSE exams!!!! In my ISC exams my father moved from Calcutta to Hyd after I completed class XI and I had to do my class XII in a different school at Hyd!! I received so much help from my teachers in Hyderabad- it was not a fancy school - no alternate system of education- good old fashioned class of about 40 girls- my teachers used to ask me to come early to school and I remember the english teacher taking pains to help me through sheaksphere and the Chem teacher taking extra classes for all the girls who wanted to come to school on Saturdays!! All this at no extra cost!!
I think what is missing is the committment from both the school and the teachers. Yes government schools do have better teachers- they are paid better, they get 20 hours of in service training every academic year in addition to their induction training- school principals are made accountable for the school performance- not to say that it is universally successful in getting the students to perform better or make all teachers sensitive but then there is some effort made towards that!! But yes, there are still govt schools where teachers misbehave with students and so on... But atleast there is an intent to foster good learning among the government schools ( pl see the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan web site to understand this better)
I agree about class sizes- there are schools in Chennai which have class sizes of 50 and sections from A-Z. I dont know how the CBSE or the Matriculation board grants them recongition. As far as I know the only 3 ICSE schools in Chennai, Abacus, Shishya and KFI have conducive class sizes. I guess the ICSE board is stricter about all this!!!
Regarding mixed age environmnet - I have my reservations. Having a child in a pure montessori school I find that it works well at the pre primary level. Between classes 2-4 it does not work for various reasons- the main one being that by this age the child needs to bond with her peers in a mixed age environment there are fewer peers . Anyway, that is outside the framework of this discussion...!!!
But I think as parents we should realize what we are looking for in our children- marks or learning? My daugther goes to ABACUS Montessori. This time the school had a child who stood second Nationally !! But what I am so proud of the school is that the Director in an interview to a national daily did not highlight that fact at all . What she said was " All our children have done well- we are proud of them"!!!
Now this is the sort of environment that we should promote in all schools. But what surprises me is that there are a few children even in this school who go for tuitions!!!! In this case, I am sure it is the inability of the parents to devote time to supervise after school lessons.
Let us keep the discussion alive......;.
Sometimes tuitions work well for parents who get very emotional while teaching and the kids are reluctant to write/study. I know of a friends son--9 years old--who really enjoys the novelty of tuitions and goes for tuition 2-3 times a week. The teacher teaches a group of students and is very fun it appears. So had it not been for this he would never sit down to study. And this child gets back from school around 4:30/5 in the evenings. He is a decent student, but his school stresses a lot on sports/actiivities and many kids in that school go for this tution thingy. I guess, "issi bahane" they sit down and do some "work" is how the parents justify.
I am fine with this and told my friend not to feel guilty.
yeah sometimes that is also the reason behinid tuitions. My friend sends her son for Hindi tuitions precisely for the same reason - though her mother tongue is hindi she finds that her son is reluctant to learn it from her and she lose her cool. The tuition teacher handles him better. But this is a small minority sort of case. The tuition teacher in question here is a fun person who lives next door and has a flair for introducing a language in a manner neither the school nor the mother is able to. This is something like the case of children who have some learning difficulties who go to a special educator after school for remedials
But this is not what I am concerned about- I think the school teacher in this case should be able to inculcate love for a language- or any subject for that matter. Language teaching in many schools is abysmmal!! You know in my daugther's school there is a refreshingly different teacher who teaches tamil- he introduces Tamil to children who take it as a 3rd language in a very unique manner. Along with the language he speaks of the culture, history and ecology of Tamil Nadu- l- he has taught them about the Sangam period- Avvayar, the agro climatic zones in Tamil Nadu- the different districts and which zones they fall under- the freedom movement in Tamil Nadu- Subramania Bharathi. He used to take them regularly (atleast once a month) to visit the different places in and around Chennai which are of relevance to Tamil Nadu. The history of Fort St. George, Bharathiyar's house in Triplicane, the Mylapore temple were some of the places that he took the class to.
Today my daugher has a wonderful understanding of the culture of Tamil Nadu. She takes pride in being Tamil ( well half Tamil actually - her father is a Malyali) and can hold a discussion with any state board child who does 2nd language Tamil on Tamil Culture. Her language skills have improved dramatically through this.
Now tell me how many teachers would take the pains to do this?
Meera, I would say you were very fortunate to have had such good teachers. Not all teachers are like that. The commitment from teachers has always been questionable.
From my own personal experience, our personal situation warranted that I was shifted to various schools in my earlier schooling and I joined in a popular CBSE school in 8th std. Due to various shifts, my standards had reduced and suddenly a very good student like me was left floundering in 8th. I found it very difficult to adjust and cope up with the new environment and studies. I was basically a good student, just needed some morale boosting and support. But that I received only from my parents and not the school teachers. The teachers thought I was a poor student and it took me 3 years to come out of it and when I scored 90% in 10th board exam, the only ones to be surprised were my teachers. And, no I did not go to the tuitions.
As has already been pointed out by everybody in this discussion, I guess steps need to be taken to make the teachers and the management answerable to the students performance and the school system needs to be reformed and unless we parents initiate and do something, I dont think anthing will change.
A different perspective I had not thought about ! But still leaves me unconvinced about the role of school here - if the school is introducing a new language, they should create opportunities / interest in the child to do some work on the same. I have noticed that in NAFL, when they introduced Hindi, they did create enough interest by doing lots of fun stuff that the kid would automatically take out hindi note book at home and spend some time.
Kids not sitting down with parents to study is a genuine issue - but I am not sure if the solution is tution or to inculcate in child the responsibility to study by oneself / or to take an adult (parent) guidance.
With a 'fun' class which the kid looks forward to going, it may be an altogether different story and that is one lucky mom to have found one like that!
I see children as young as 4 years (LKG) going for tuitions here. I was really shocked as to why they would want a 4 yr child to go for tuition. One of the parents I interacted stated the reason that the child is refusing to sit and do his home work with her them whereas they're ready to do that when he's sent for tuition!I wondr what these parents would do if there were NO tuition centres. Wouldn't they find novel ways to work with their children?
Another reason I feel is the herd mentality we so often see here. They feel that their child will lose out if they don't send them to the tuition centre.
Yes Sumo and Saigee good points. Definitely the schools need to do MORE. I mean the little child comes back at 3:30 or 4 or 5 and then tuition class or even loads of homework after that!! I notice with my little ones that they are really bright after they have had a break from studies. What are they going to school for??
Also, we parents could try and not give up so easily. I mean in a more ideal and "normal" world schools and parents can help the child. I have seen another classmate of my daughter starting to do much better this year when she does not have tuition because she hated her tuition teacher last year.
Also, in my experience, parents can chip in to some extent when school fails. Last year for whatever reason (teacher, phase etc.) my daughter was not as motivated to study or do well. I think some subjects like EVS were not fun for her anymore. I remember Sumo telling me that their section teacher was making EVS fun by telling in a story form. So I started telling her a story about stuff and acting it out, being silly and that really worked wonders. Those concepts she still remembers. But Yes, it meant some effort from my part. But...
But i think everyone has different problems and I think if you have really tried and pushed the envelope and it backfires (you get angry and abusive) it is NOT good and you might just be okay to look for options.
But the general and age-old trend of tuitions and academic pressure is does not help the child at all.
Great discussion. Lots of very well put points. Here is my view and I am playing a little bit of a devil's advocate here.
Are all tuitions really evil? Shouldn't we also look at the fundamental reasons why parents send their children to tuition? (mm - you started down this track. I am taking it a little further)
Is is possible that sending a child to tuitions is a better alternative than having them at home watching TV for many, many hours?
Is it possible that there are parents who have to work long hours and thus find it difficult to find the time to sit with the child to work through all their academics?
Is it possible that these parents would rather play or engage the child in non-academic pursuits in the limited time they have with them?
Is it possible that parents don't understand the academics of today? With many years of college education and work experience, I am sure I cannot sit down with my children and work through all the mathematics theorems or scientific principles they have to learn. Even now, I have to look up some of these things on the Internet.
Is it possible that tuitions (if delivered in a non-comparative, non-competitive manner. And many are!) can really be a way to increase the child's responsibility for learning?
Is the world really the same as the one we grew up in? Haven't the distractions gone up 100x and our span of attention has dropped significantly? Is it possible that an hour of sitting down to focus on academics may actually help the child?
I agree with many of the points made above. However, I do not think that tuitions are a clearcut good-vs-evil issue. They are more nuanced.
And for the record, my kids don't go to tuitions :-)
Yes, you were really playing the devil's advocate role well... But I have the following points
A. Regarding the home environment being conducive to studying- you know I think as parents we need to have some control over ourselves- TV watching needs to be regulated We need to allign ourselves to the study routine. Our parents did it and I dont think it is difficult for us to do either. You know we have a rule at home that the TV does not get switched on till Shrishti completes her studies for the evening. We did not have cable connection until very recently and were seriously considering disposing off the television. We also follow another rule- no socializing on week days and no shopping either. It is difficult but then whoever said that parenting was an easy thing? There have been studies that reveal that children like routine- I dont see why we canit set that for them
B. Regarding academics today being too difficult today- That is precisely why there are teachers in the school- they should know what they are teaching and help the child learn and if as parents we find it difficult then we should insist that the teacher clears all doubts and ensures that the child has learnt- just imagine if we go to a shop and buy something and we find that it is not suitable- dont we insist on a replacement or a repair? I am sorry that i have to use such a crass example to illustrate this point but then that is what private education is all about- service against money paid!!! I think deep down some parents may also have this fear that if they take too strong a stand against the school - the school may "start taking it out" on the child. Besides, we are also part of the herd mentality- we feel that ensuring the child remains in that so called "good" school is very important even if it means sending her for tuition.
C. About parents having jobs that do not permit them to supervise lessons- I agree that you have a point there- my daugther has a friend whose mother is a single parent and works between 2 PM to 10PM. She has been concerned about not being able to supervise studies and she cannot give up her job as she is the only bread winner. So I have suggested this option to her- can she arrange for her child to come to our home so that both the girls can study together? She was a little skeptical whether the child would study or both the girls would play- (now I wonder why we dont think about that in a tuition context? ). But finally we have decided that we will do the homework supervison only and the regular lessons can be done with the mother on weekends.
Satya, I agree that academics today seem different -after this long gap of nearly 20 plus years I have to still call up my father long distance to find out if the hydrometer has the gradutations top to bottom or bottom to top and why - my daugther ofcourse knew the answer but I was confused and between grandfather and mother we confused her completely! But she was right all along and I wish I had not meddled with what I considered my superior knowledge- "dont teach me things that I have no doubts about" she finally told me!!!
Yes there are more distractions today that what we had during our student years. But as I had mentioned earlier- it is upto us as parents to keep that tempered. It is difficult and I dont say that I am doing a great job at it- there are times when I feel very constrained about not being able to pursue something ( like a music class or go to a gym) after office hourse because I need to be back at home by 6.30PM. My husband helps out too- between us we have decided on our role with supervison subjectwise so that the child is used to the same style for one subject- he ensures that she does her maths till I get back- just 5-10 sums to keep her focussed and then once I get back we do the other subjects ( revision, homework, projects whatever.....!!!). I used to do a lot of project work with her but I think now at 11 she should know how to organize her project work and present it without my help!! It has been difficult but we are working at it.
No -tuitions are not required at this stage- may be later at the Xth or XII th specifically with respect to subjects that require constant handholding with regard to concepts clarity and application- things that parents who dont have a flair for the subject might find difficult to do- typically subjects like maths or physics.
But going for tuitions at the LKG level seems crazy!!!
I forgot to add something when I posted the previous message- do you know kids have tuition homework also!!!! A child next door goes for tuition, comes back ,does her tuition homework, then her school homework!! I wonder who supervises the tuition homework? The parents or some other tuition teacher.
Such a topic for discussion, and so many viewpoints..! All these years (almost 4), i ve been kind of feeling guilty, of being unable to decide whether i was right or wrong. Point is, i dont send my daughter to tuitions, whereas everybody around my locality, and in my apartment complex, does. Right from LKG. Yes, LKG ! When i enquired why ? I was asked " What do you mean why?? How else will they study? Everybody is sending their kids to that Ma'm for tuitions, so i do too."
Also, being the only working mom around here, i had to contend with veiled remarks, like, " velakki poravangellam pasanga enna padikirangannu kandukaradhu illai" I have always managed to make my daughter sit and study. I also compared the scores of my daughter's pals who took tuitions, with my daughter's, and expectedly, my daughter scored better. When i took this fact for argument, i was told off, that its only temporary, and my daughter's grades will start falling gradually, if dont start her tuition classes immediately. And that i was negligent about her future, being a working mom.
I guess its only a herd mentality that makes parents of lil kids send them to tuitions. Maybe Ok for classes X and above, for some extra coaching or whatever, but classes 1-5 ?? Any parent who has a child in the KG or 1st or 2nd grade and who sends the child for tuition, might give us an idea why this happens. Anybody ?
I can completely understand and empathise with you. My parents often ask me why I dont send my daughter for tuitions- I cant beleive the turn around attitude that seems to have affected them after so many years and after b ringing up two daughters who were academically very bright and who did not have anything to do with tuitions ( other than my brief brush with hindi tuition for a year in class 8)...! I guess their concerrn is that since both of us are working whether there is enough time for supervision of studies. They also see me getting tiered and returning home and sitting down with their grand child for stuides ... guess it is the parent in them worrying about me.
But like I had mentioned in one of my earlier posts- working moms dont have to bank on tuitions if we are able to spare time for kids when we are back. And between both parents we can ensure that studying takes place. Afterall, we are not exactly teaching them things- we are only ensuring that they revise what has been taugtht and do their homework.
I also agree- on comparison of scores - I find that my daughter fares much better than those class mates of hers who go for tuitions.
Now I am wondering if parents send their children for tuitions for their scores to go up? If yes then that is the wrong thing to do- scores can go up if we ensure that the school is doing what is supposed to do- foster learning..!!! Sometimes when my daughter has not understood a point, I curb the urge to explain it to her but try and get her to ask her teacher to do the explaining- it has worked well. The teacher has also been impressed by the fact that the child has actually taken the trouble to go through the lessons and then got back to her as she has not understood.
But much depends on the teacher's attitude which again is a reflection of the attitude of the school towards such things- if they feel that their job ends once the class is over it is then that the problems come....
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